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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Athletics Over Academics? Nebraska’s $450M Stadium Upgrades Under Fire

  • The University of Nebraska is planning $450 million of renovations to its football stadium.
  • At the same time, budgets cuts could be hitting some academic programs.
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The University of Nebraska’s football team is heading into the winter after its seventh straight season with a losing record and no bowl game invitations. 

Despite the lack of success on the field, the Cornhuskers are planning $450 million worth of renovations to Memorial Stadium, all while millions of dollars are set to be cut from the university system’s academic budget. Over the next two years, the entire NU system is looking at a projected budget deficit of $58 million. Academic programs could be cut and staff laid off.

For some, that’s not adding up.

“They have their priorities all wrong,” American Association of University Professors president Irene Mulvey told the Associated Press.

The athletics and academic budgets are funded separately, and public dollars don’t support university sports. 

In 2022, Nebraska athletics generated more than $143 million in revenue. Nebraska athletics director Trev Alberts is tasked with persuading donors to provide enough money for the stadium renovations.

Desert Problems

In a telling example of how college cash problems can impact student-athletes, the University of Arizona faces a $240 million school-wide shortage following significant miscalculations in their financial modeling that could impact sports programs. Arizona currently fields 23 varsity teams, and cuts are being considered.

“Everything’s on the table in terms of dealing with athletics,” Arizona president Robert Robbins said last month.

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